A group of Cumbrian villagers have launched a £200,000 fund to save their village shop.
Kirkoswald, in the Eden Valley, has had a village shop for more than 100 years but following the current owner’s death during the COVID-19 pandemic, its future hangs in the balance.
Today, a group of villagers have launched a £200,000 share offer so they can buy the shop and run it as a community enterprise.
To do this, they need to raise £200,000 by the end of June.
The management committee for Kirkoswald Community Shop has structured the share offer to make it accessible to all with the minimum purchase being one share costing £25.
Ruth Anderson MBE, chairman of the committee, said: “We have been overwhelmed with offers of support so far from members of our community with pledges of over £100,000.
“But we still have a long way to go to hit our £200,000 target so please dig deep and help keep our community alive!”
The shop not only provides essential goods but is also a community hub to exchange information, to help tackle rural isolation and is a lifeline for those without transport.
Villager Nev Jackson added: “I have been using this shop for over 70 years, it is absolutely essential to keep it open!”
John Holliday said the shop was part of his daily routine. He added: ““I have been walking down the hill from home to the shop every morning for over 20 years since I retired, to collect my newspaper.
“I don’t know what I would do if the shop wasn’t there.”
As part of the project, the committee is also seeking grant funding to contribute to the £200,000 target.
One organisation which has offered support, and has already contributed £5,000 towards set-up costs, is
The Community Shares Unit.
In addition to the set-up grant, through their Power to Change Community Shares Booster Programme, if Kirkoswald Community Shop can raise £125,000 through the share offer they should be set to receive grant funding of £25,000.
Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, is supporting the project.
He said: “This community-based project will allow local people to have ownership of this facility and will not only help to keep this rural village sustainable but will create a vital hub for this community.
“I fully support this fantastic local initiative. The shop is essential to the village.”
For more information, visit www.kirkoswaldshop.co.uk